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In this article, you will get the necessary information you need to know when registering a trademark in China.

Why should you register a trademark in China?

If you are planning to do business with China, it is crucial to register your trademark in advance. China does not recognize unregistered trademark rights and if you plan to sell on e-commerce websites or via a local distributor, the first requirement you will get is to register your trademark, before any trading takes place.

The timeframe for the registration

The average time frame for the whole process is around 13 months, if everything goes smooth:

  • It takes the trademark about 3 months to get accepted.
  • It takes about 10 months to get the results of the trademark examination by the China State Intellectual Property office.
  • If the trademark gets accepted by the China Trademark office, it will be published on the website “TM gazette” of China Trademark office for 3 months.
  • After the publication, if no one has opposed the trademark, you will be given the certificate of the trademark within 1 month.

What documents to prepare

To apply for trademark registration, foreigners need to prepare the following documents:

1. Your ID or Enterprise License such as ‘Company Registration Certificate’, ‘Business Registration Certificate’, ‘Business License’ and so on.

2. Trademark pattern in clear JPG format.

3. Description the goods or services, which the trademark is applied to.

4. Name of entrepreneur, company address, Email address, phone number.

The types of trademarks you can register in China

The following marks are acceptable:

  • Words
  • Colors
  • Names
  • Devices
  • Certain 3-dimensional shapes
  • Slogans
  • Sounds
  • Combination of all of the above elements
  • Service marks
  • Certification marks
  • Well-known marks

The following marks are prohibited from registration:

  • Marks that are against the moral standards or public order of China
  • Marks that lack distinctive qualities
  • Symbol, flag, or name of a state, nation, region, or an international organization
  • Marks that are used primarily to indicate a geographical location name
  • Generic words or terms
  • Marks that may mislead consumers

File your trademark in Chinese

For a better protection in China, we recommend registering your trademark in Chinese characters. First, if your trademark is registered only in its original version (Latin characters), a third party can use or register the same trademark (or a similar one) in local characters. In addition to that, the registration and use of the trademark in local characters will make your brand more recognizable because Chinese people will be able to read it.

Trademark classes

China and Europe use the same registration systems for international classification of goods and services, but China has unique trademark subclasses which aren’t used in Europe.

It’s important that you confirm which of 45 classes and subclasses should be used for your products. To be fully protected, you can use subclasses that have little relevance with your products as well.

The period of the trademark validity

The registered mark is valid for 10 years and you will have to renew it 10 years after the date of registration. Be sure to renew the trademark registration in advance. A registered mark can be cancelled on the ground of non-use therefore it must be used within 3 consecutive years after registration.

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